This year’s Secret Cinema experience is The Empire Strikes Back, and I recently hopped a transport ship to get you this spoiler free review.
Let me start off by saying, if you haven’t been yet don’t worry, this review won’t spoil anything for you. I’m not going to talk about anything that would affect the surprise and sheer enjoyment you will get.
In 2007, Secret Cinema pioneered the form ‘Live Cinema’ by introducing site-specific, immersive cultural experiences. Breaking films – and recently music albums – into their constituent parts and marrying narratives with play-along action, Secret Cinema is a unique participatory social experience. Fuelled by a desire to fill the void left by an over-saturated technological world, it invites audiences to lose themselves in serendipitous, imaginary environments that challenge the way we perceive culture and social interaction. To date, over 300,000 people attended Secret Cinema’s events.
It all started a few weeks ago when I received some details about my character – my name, who I was, and some advice on what to wear and what to carry with me. This is all optional of course, but if you really want to get immersed then I highly recommend doing whatever you can to go “in character”. Secret Cinema have a shop where you can buy things before your visit, but for the most part it is very easy to wear something in line with your character and certainly carry things you might need (this will make sense to anyone who has already been, so trust me if you haven’t).
When we arrived at the specified location a few Friday’s ago we were quickly sent on our way, being warned that the Empire has eyes and ears everywhere. Once we got through “security” our journey really began. Again, I don’t want to give anything away here, but we really felt part of the story, even at the entrance.
Once we finally got to our first location we stayed there for a while enjoying the scenery, interacting with the locals (this is where some of those items may come in handy), having a drink and some food, and just generally enjoying ourselves. We even got to witness a few classic scenes being re-enacted in front of us. Before long though it was time to leave and move on to another location. Even changing locations felt like we were part of the story and not just moving from one area to another.
For the rest of the evening we stayed in that second location, again enjoying the atmosphere, scenery, food and drink, and in my case, getting thrown into a jail cell for trying to rescue a certain Princess – thankfully I was liberated though, and we all know things worked out fine for her as well.
When eventually the time comes to sit down to watch the film itself (several hours after arriving) you can’t help but feel you are a part of the Star Wars universe.
You can easily see that a lot of time, effort and money has gone into reproducing locations, sets, props and costumes, with lots of people in character at all times either guiding you, helping you, or trying to stop you. And it doesn’t matter if you are in costume yourself or not, you will still have an amazing time.
I highly recommend going if you can, this is the experience you are looking for, now move along.
SECRET CINEMA Presents STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK is on now until 27th September 2015 www.secretcinema.org/tickets